TRENTON — New Jersey government contractors banned from making major campaign contributions to state and local politicians are now donating big to a national Republican group that is showering the Garden State GOP with money, a Star-Ledger review…
Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore told MMM that he is actively encouraging Chris Isola, a declared candidate for the CD-3 GOP nomination, to seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate instead.
Isola, of Malton in Burlington County, is close to making a decision, according to Gilmore.
The Ocean County GOP’s screening committee endorsed former Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur to replace Congressman Jon Runyan in the House of Representatives last weekend. Gilmore’s committee interviewed Murray Sabrin and Jeff Bell for the Senate nomination on Saturday but did not select a candidate. “There are two other candidates we want to interview and a fifth who I want to get in, Chris Isola,” Gilmore said after Governor Chris Christie’s Town Hall meeting in Toms River.
Isola’s LinkedIn profile lists his profession as “Candidate at 113th United States Congress.” A U.S. Marine Corp veteran, Isola served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon his honorable discharge in 2005 Isola entered the financial services industry.
Ocean County GOP Chairman Geroge Gilmore is among a handful of connected lobbyists hired by AshBrit, the Florida company that won the sole state contract for Superstorm Sandy clean up, who was making sales calls to municipal officials looking for lucrative non-bid clean up work after then storm, according to an article in The Star Ledger this morning.
MMM was the first to report that former Corzine staffer Maggie Moran and her firm, M Public Affairs, was selling AshBrit’s premium priced services to Sandy ravaged municipalities. The Ledger report expands the list of lobbyists working for AshBrit in New Jersey to Gilmore, former Corzine cabinet member Kris Kullari, and former Assembly Republican director Jon Bombardieri.
AshBrit has been widely praised for the quality of the clean up work it hired subcontractors to perform. Their no-bid pricing is the issue. AshBrit charged $100 per ton for debris removal. Towns that didn’t hire AshBrit got the work done for $26 per ton.
“If this isn’t a classic example of how everything is connected in New Jersey politics, I don’t know what is,” said state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), who was Corzine’s running mate in 2009 when Moran managed his re-election campaign.
MMM is generally not a fan of Weinberg, but we are with her on this issue. Excess profits paid to AshBrit for making phone calls and signing contracts could have been used to rebuild infrastructure, house the displaced, etc, or not borrowed from China in the first place.
“The Democrats created this district so that Republicans would spend resources fighting each other while they sit back and get ready for the general election and it looks as like that is going to happen.” So said Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore about the new 30th legislative district in an interview with MMM early yesterday afternoon.
Within hours what had seemed to be a certain primary between Senators Sean Kean and Robert Singer was apparently avoided. “Sean is talking to Singer,” said Monmouth GOP Chairman Joe Oxley, “There will be no war between the Ocean and Monmouth Republican organizations. Ocean and Monmouth were key counties in delivering a victory to Governor Christie and we will be working together to deliver Republican gains in the legislature.”
Kean later told the Asbury Park Press that he was uncertain about challenging Singer in the primary. Singer told the APP that should he retire, that Kean would face an Senate candidate from Lakewood.
With both Senators backing off their firm positions to run, it appears that cooler heads will prevail as a slate is chosen with an eye towards victory in November.
The new 12th district will not be such a heavy lift. “With three counties, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean, each having roughly 1/3 of the population of the district it would seem that each county should have a representative in the legislature,” said Gilmore. Oxley concurred.
Middlesex County Chairman Sam Thompson, Old Bridge, is an incumbent Assemblyman from the new 12th district. He has been angling to get the senate nod, touting the fact that he would be the only GOP Senator from Middlesex County and that his senatorial courtesy would give the Christie administration a new bargaining chip in dealing with the Democrats. GOP sources in the legislature and the administration are divided over the benefit of Thompson having sentatorial courtesy so long as there is a Republican governor. “The Senate seems to be slipping away from Sam,” said one senior Republican close to the process.
Oxley does not consider Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas’ primary bid in the new 12th to be a serious undertaking. “I don’t know who is giving Andrew his political advice,” said Oxley, “this is not fun and games, it is serious business.” Oxley was referring to Lucas’ comment on MMMthat a legislative primary against Freeholder Director Rob Clifton would be fun.
If Clifton is awarded “the line” in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean, a Lucas primary victory would appear to be unlikely even if he runs a competitive race in his Western Monmouth base.
Looming large for incumbents and potential legislative candidates in the new 12th and 30th legislative districts is the question, “What will George Gilmore do?”
Gilmore is the Chairman of the powerful Ocean County Republican Organization. He was a member of the Redistricting Commission.
The new 12th includes Plumsted,Jackson and the Pt. Pleasants in Ocean County. Ronald Dancer of Plumsted is an incumbent Assemblyman. Sam Thompson of Old Bridge (Middlesex) is also an incumbent Assemblyman in the new district. There is a Senate vacancy. Monmouth County Freeholder Director Rob Clifton and Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas, also of Monmouth County, have both announced their intention to seek a legislative seat in the district.
Will Gilmore put up candidates to challenge Thompson, Clifton and Lucas?
Likewise in the new 30th, Glimore looms large. Monmouth County’s population dominates the new 30th, but Robert Singer has represented Howell of Monmouth for years. Singer is better known in Howell than Sean Kean is.
Dave Rible is the only incumbent Assembly member from the new 30th. Rible hasn’t returned a call for comment, but some of his supporters from the old 11th are worried that Dave could be vulnerable should Gilmore field two Assembly candidates in the district.